My best discovery last year was Stoicism

It’s a remarkable moment when you realize that your own attempted way of thinking matches with an existing ancient Greek philosophy which you didn’t know about.

This is what happened to me last year when I first learned about Stoicism. I haven’t been much interested in philosophy before, so while I had heard the term in the past, I didn’t know anything about it. But lately my interest in philosophy has grown. And when I in 2016 stumbled upon an article about Stoicism, I was astonished: Reading about the mental models and frameworks that philosophers such as Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius had come up with about 2000 years ago was like seeing some of my own thought principles laid out in front of me.

Since then, I have been diving a bit deeper into this school of thought, and I have been able to investigate the occasions and situations during which I don’t manage to follow the core idea of Stoicism: That we (in most cases) cannot control external events, but we can control how our mind responds to them. And therefore, controlling the responses of our mind — not the external events — is the path to a better, more happy life.

In my own experience, one of the most valuable ideas of Stoicism is that one should stop expecting other people to act according to how one wants them to act. Most probably, they won’t. And if they don’t, you can choose to get angry/irritated about them, or you can realize that at this point, the problem is your own expectation about how they’ll act.

There are still many times in which I fail to apply this principle, but since I started reading about Stoicism, I am much more aware of these situations, and I am trying hard to improve my responses.

To anyone who is curious about Stoicism, I can recommend Ryan Holiday’s fantastic book “The Daily Stoic” and associated website or this podcast in which he talks about.

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